Today is the last day of the Christmas season for the Church. It is known as the Baptism of the Lord. We see Jesus as a grown man going down into the Jordan River to be baptized by John. John thinks Jesus should baptize him, but Jesus insists that John baptize Jesus. So, if this is the last day of Christmas, how does Jesus’ baptism teach us about Christmas?
The readings for today help us greatly. The first reading speaks of a servant who is not shouting or crying out but is quiet and gentle. Who is the servant? When Isaiah was written this was the time when Jerusalem was under siege from the Babylonians. Israel’s king, Hezekiah, has diverted spring water into Jerusalem but eventually they would run out of food and Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. The servant in Isaiah is the people of Israel. Now we can look at this story and realize that Isaiah could have been talking about the birth of Jesus maybe six hundred years before Jesus. Jesus came into this world as a quiet, gentle baby. Jesus would not hurt anyone. Isaiah gives us a foretelling of the coming of Jesus.
The responsorial psalm continues to teach us about the birth of Jesus. In this psalm, we are to give glory and praise to God. When Jesus was born who gave glory and praise to God? We know in the gospel of Luke that the heavens were open, and the angels came forth giving glory and praise to God.
Next, we can look at the gospel. A little Church history helps. At one time the Church would celebrate the coming of the Magi, the manifestation of Jesus at the wedding feast in Cana, and the Baptism of the Lord all on January 6, the day we call the Epiphany. The reason for this is that Jesus did not come just for the Jewish people but for all people. The Magi represent people coming from afar. At the wedding feast, Jesus begins his mission to redeem mankind. And at the Baptism the Holy Spirit comes down upon Jesus. All three of these events are part of the Epiphany. We like to think of the Magi, but all three events indicate Jesus coming to all people.
It also indicates the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus. You might ask why? If Jesus is God, is He not God, Son, and Holy Spirit? True, yes, but in this case the Father sends the Holy Spirit down upon Jesus that the graces of the Holy Spirit will flow out of Jesus like a river to all people. As we are baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus did, making us sons and daughters of God through the Holy Spirit. God wanted us to realize that through our baptism we become children of God and members of His Kingdom. We are given eternal life.
In the second reading from Acts, we learn that God shows no partiality. God has a plan of salvation for all people if we believe in His Son. This brings us back to God’s commandment to love one another. If we do not love our neighbor, then we do not love Jesus. God allows our free will to make the choice. Let us choose then to honor our baptismal promises and love God and our neighbor.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen